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Intelligent Fastening Systems

Mixed materials in the automotive industry: opportunities, risks and solutions

The most important facts in brief

  • Different materials are deliberately combined with each other and used and installed in particular where their respective properties score points.
  • In addition to lightweight design, economic aspects also play an important role.
  • Some manufacturers are experimenting with sustainable materials such as wood and other natural fibers.
  • Mixed materials cannot always be combined with classic joining processes - there are both tolerance and material-related challenges here.
  • WITOLs reliably bond different materials together and provide the desired and required tolerance compensation in accordance with the specified tolerance concept.
WITOL Tolerance Compensation Solution

The keyword “material mix” is being used more and more frequently in the modern automotive industry. This refers to the planned use of different materials – with the aim of developing sustainable, lightweight and economical vehicles. Mixed materials cannot always be combined with each other – and there are also the tolerances that have to be compensated for. For driving safety and aesthetics, however, the reliable and secure connection of the components plays a central role. This is exactly where WITOL’s tolerance compensation and fastening systems can be the right solution.

Mixed materials in the automotive industry

Lighter, more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly – these are the typical requirements for modern vehicles. But combining these properties is sometimes simply impossible with just one material. Many typical materials used in passenger cars are sustainable and improve the driving experience, but have a negative impact on the weight of the car. Consumption increases and the range decreases. A clever solution to this problem: the deliberate and targeted use of different materials for car body construction.

Trend: material mix instead of single material

Traditionally, a vehicle is predominantly made of steel. The reasons are as simple as they are understandable: steel is easy to process and easy to recycle. In addition, its mechanical properties are ideal for use in body construction. However, compared to other materials, steel has a high mass for the same volume. The material weight in automotive construction is increasing anyway due to ever new technical upgrades and stricter safety standards. In order to reduce vehicle weight, steel is being replaced in many places by light metals or comparable materials such as glass fibre and carbon fibre reinforced plastics. Aluminum and carbon fiber are particularly significant here.

Areas of application for the various materials

Of course, the individual elements of the car cannot simply be replaced at random. Where which material should be used is influenced by various factors. For this purpose, for example, the following aspects are crucial:

  • Mechanical and functional requirements for the respective component
  • Weight of the material
  • Life cycle assessment and recyclability

The aspects such as environmental protection and scarcity of resources are also becoming more and more important. Many manufacturers have started to focus on individual components made of sustainable wood or recycled plastic. Today, however, it is above all the positive properties with regard to the CO2 balance and recycling that count. Sustainability plays a decisive role in the vehicle construction of the future.

Advantages and disadvantages of the material mix in the automotive industry

Mixed materials in modern vehicles should be both resource-saving and economical. New concepts, for example with individual car components made of natural fibers, could represent a pioneering solution here.

One challenge is the difficult joining of the individual materials together. With new, sustainable materials, traditional joining methods are not always applicable. The resulting tolerances can no longer be simply compensated for. Innovative joining and fastening systems are required so that the visual appearance nevertheless does not suffer as a result of the lighter materials.

WITOLs as a solution for emerging tolerances

WITOLs are used, among other things, at screw points and joint gaps. They can be installed firmly, precisely and time-efficiently through simple assembly. In this way, the individual components of the car body can meet the high quality requirements of the automotive industry and be reliably joined together. The tolerance compensation systems from WITOL offer individual solution concepts and can be optimally adapted for the materials and interfaces used.

Conclusion: Mixed materials connected for the future

The fastening of mixed materials in vehicle construction can be implemented individually by using the tolerance compensation systems from WITOL. Advantages such as better economy and environmental balance are retained and make the material mix even more competitive and thus more future-proof. Fastening solutions and tolerance compensation systems from WITOL continue to develop with the ever new challenges of the automotive industry and thus enable progress in vehicle construction while taking economic efficiency into account.